Islamic law regarding food

Islam has provided detailed rules and regulations regarding food and drinks. Islamic law has prohibited all unclean and injurious food. The Qur'an, the book of Allah, states:

"O people! eat lawful and clean things of earth and do not follow the footsteps of the devil as he is your manifest enemy." (2:168)

"O believers, eat the clean things we have provided you with, be grateful to Allah if you sincerely want to obey Him." (7:158)

"He (i.e. the Prophet) makes lawful for you the clean things and dirty things unlawful for you." (7:157)

The Qur'an has categorically prohibited only a few animal food. The Qur'an states in this regard: 

"Forbidden to you (as food) are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine and the animals on which has been invoked any name other than that of Allah and which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow or killed by a fall or that which has been partly eaten by wild animal unless you are able to slaughter it in due form, that which is sacrificed on shrines." (5:4)

In the verse of Al Ma'ida, ten things have been prohibited and there are scientific and moral reasons for their prohibitions. The reasons in all cases may yet not be obvious. However with the advancement of knowledge, the significance of the instructions of Allah will be more evident.  The Prophet of Islam (Allah be pleased with him) has also prohibited meat of ass, carnivorous animals like tiger, foxes, dogs, leopard which kill their prey by using their paws. He has also prohibited birds that eat flesh by using their nails and by tearing their food (for example vulture). 

The meat of lawful animals will be lawful only if the animals are slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. The following conditions have been laid down in this regard:

  1. The veins near throat have to be cut by a sharp weapon so that blood flows out freely. The whole neck must not be cut off at the time of slaughtering.  
  2. The name of any being other than Allah can not be invoked at the time of slaughtering.  
  3. The name of Allah shall have to be invoked at the time of slaughtering.  The Qur'an states:

    "Eat the meat of the animals on which the name of Allah has been invoked, if you are believer." (6:18)

    "Do not eat meat of animal on which the name of Allah has not been invoked because this is an act of sin." (6:121)

The invoking of the name of Allah at the time of slaughtering is very significant. It indicates that life is sacred and even animal life can not be taken except for lawful purposes, and no purpose can be considered lawful unless it is sanctioned by Allah. 

Islamic law has given separate rule for fish and other animals of water. The Qur'an states, 

"Lawful for you is the game of sea and its use as food." (5:96)

The dead fish of water is also lawful. The Prophet of Islam Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, "The water of sea if clean and its dead fish is lawful." This has been narrated by Ahmad in his book on traditions of the Prophet (Sm). 

All food items whether animal product or otherwise are lawful except what has been specifically or by clear general description has been prohibited by Allah and His Prophet. 

Islamic law has provided exception in respect of eating of the prohibited food items only in case of grave difficulties. Prohibited food can be taken in a little quantity to save life if no lawful food is available. 

As regards drinks, wine, alcoholic drinks and other intoxicants have been prohibited by Allah and His Prophet (Sm). 

The Qur'an states: 

"O believers! intoxicants, gambling, (dedication of) stones and (divination by) arrows are all abominable works of Satan, therefore, refrain from these so that you may attain true success. Indeed Satan intends to sow enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and gambling to prevent you from remembrance of Allah and from prayers." (5:90)

The Prophet of Islam has explained the prohibition and its extent by the following declarations: "Every drink that intoxicates is unlawful." (In the book of tradition of Imam Muslim)

"I prohibit every intoxicant." "If large quantity of anything intoxicates, its small quantity is also prohibited." (In the book of tradition of Ahmad, Abu Daud, etc.)

Regarding intoxicant Prophet (Sm) said, "It is not medicine, it is a disease." (In the book of tradition of Muslim, etc.)

The position of Islam with regard to intoxicating drinks and other intoxicants is very clear. Indeed humanity has been badly afflicted by drinks and intoxicants. The following of teaching of teaching of Islam in this regard can save humanity from an extremely harmful thing.  Islam as complete code of life has given necessary instructions of food and drinks. These are only for the benefit of humanity and not to make life of people difficult as it has made lawful most of food items.

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